Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Network Neutrality and The Comcast Decision

Looks like the Courts decided in favor of Comcast.  I think it's a decision consonant with individual rights because really, I don't think the government should have a say in how people use private property.  I don't think something becomes public property merely by being a business open to the public.  This is a point made well in Ray Niles's article, Net Neutrality: Toward a Stupid Internet:

"To hold that the Internet is a “commons” or “public property” is to evade its actual nature; the Internet is a network of privately owned personal computers, servers, and cable. Ignoring this fact and pretending to themselves that the Internet is “public property,” proponents of net neutrality seek government control over private property—specifically that of Internet service providers."

Gibbs comes out on the side of regulation without consideration of even mention of rights.  Apparently, if you are a service provider, you haven't any.

"If you don't work for the telephone and cable companies, watch this mess carefully and speak out for regulation because if you don't, you'll watch Internet access prices go way up, choice decrease, innovation be stifled and your online freedoms trashed. If you do work for the telephone and cable companies, consider carefully what you'll support and why; it will affect your family, your society and ultimately, you."

I would like to suggest to Gibbs that he considers carefully what he supports, which will indeed affect all of us.  Namely arbitrary government regulation and a complete disregard for any kind of property rights.  Niles sums up neatly:

"...setting aside the fact that it will thwart competition and retard the Internet, we must recognize first and foremost that net neutrality violates the rights of private property owners—specifically Internet service providers. The fact that Internet access is a profound value does not justify government force against the ISPs that make it possible, any more than the fact that books are a profound value justifies government involvement in Barnes and Noble’s pricing, displaying, and stocking of books. The property of Internet service providers is theirs; as such, they have the moral right to use and dispose of it as they please, regardless of what their customers, FCC bureaucrats, and net neutrality advocates have to say about it."

If Gibbs wants to live in a world where political pull matters more than rationality, technological innovation, and doing what makes the best economic sense; if he wants the threat of constant pressure group warfare, he need only continue advocating government regulation of private property.  Without property rights, no other rights (life, liberty) are possible.